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Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have taken the crypto market by storm over recent years.
While crypto enthusiasts insist there are myriad possible use cases for NFTs, the most popular—and valuable—application of this unusual crypto technology has been works of art that exist solely on the blockchain.
By most metrics, Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is the most successful NFT art collection. BAYC’S current market capitalization is valued at around $1.1 billion, according to CoinGecko.
In recent months, there have even been stories of Bored Apes being stolen by hackers, including a bizarre phishing scheme involving the actor and producer Seth Green.
“Well (friends), it happened to me. Got phished and had four NFTs stolen,” Green tweeted in May.
While stealing blockchain art monkeys might seem somewhat abstract, it’s easier to understand given the titanic valuations behind the Bored Apes. In April 2022, entry-level prices reached nearly $420,000—that’s expensive art, making them fat targets for heists.
So what’s the deal with these curiously named NFTs? Here’s a guide to all things Bored Apes, including a look at its history, meteoric rise, recent controversies and stratospheric pricing.
What Is the Bored Ape Yacht Club?
These digital artworks portray, well, bored simians. They all share a common look and feel, yet each Ape features a unique combination of facial expressions, accessories and outfits, so no two are the same.
It’s this combination of features—or the relative rarity of each combo—that may be the very thing that underpins the popularity of the Bored Apes. In the BAYC community, “rarity” is a formal measure of the uniqueness of each Ape.
There are dedicated websites that score Apes for their rarity. According to Rarity Tools, Bored Ape No. 8135 recently held the highest “custom rarity score.” Notable features for Bored Ape No. 8135 include a dagger in its mouth, a “trippy captain’s hat,” and a silver stud earring.
Other than rarity, there’s nothing ostensibly unique about the artworks themselves—they’re just pictures of monkeys, after all. What separates BAYC from the crowd is that it has become a cultural phenomenon.
For the NFT cognoscenti, owning a Bored Ape means more than just possessing a digital cartoon monkey—it’s a ticket granting the holder access to an exclusive membership club with perks like merchandise, parties and ApeCoins (APE), among other things.
How Many Bored Ape NFTs Are There?
Created via an algorithm, there will only ever be 10,000 Bored Ape NFTs in circulation.
As noted above, each Ape is unique. While it may share a feature, or several features, with other Apes, no two are identical. This drives BAYC’s non-fungible nature, which is the key to NFT valuations.
This action is considered controversial in some quarters, as a central entity intervening goes against one of the core pillars of crypto: decentralization. On the other hand, it helps prevent perpetrators from selling the stolen Apes for crypto they can withdraw.
Who Owns Bored Apes?
Celebrities, influencers and regular folks own Bored Apes. Some BAYC owners use their Apes as their social media profile images.
Well-known celebrities love their Bored Apes. Madonna owns BAYC No. 4988, Justin Bieber has BAYC No. 3001 and Tom Brady owns BAYC No. 3667, to name just a few.
— Madonna (@Madonna) March 25, 2022
“The general public hears about a celebrity paying money for a BAYC NFT, which in turn creates validation and a perceived value in the project itself,” says Dave Broome, CEO of Orange Comet, which has launched several NFT collections.
Bored Ape Prices
Bored Apes were first released in April 2021, with an original mint price of 0.08 ETH, equivalent to about $192 at the time.
Apes’ floor price, the price for the cheapest NFT within a collection, has fluctuated wildly.
It peaked in April 2022 at around $420,000 almost a year to the day when the collection was released. But the BAYC floor price has fallen amid the crypto downturn— now at 72 ETH, nearly $110,000. That’s a drop of more than 70% in five months.
For rarer Apes, the price has frequently been into the millions of dollars. For example, BAYC No. 5383 sold on Aug. 18 for 777 ETH, roughly $1.4 million. The rare gold fur attribute primarily drives its high price.
The most expensive Ape ever sold also possesses gold fur, BAYC No. 8817, sold at Sotheby’s “Natively Digital 1.2: The Collectors” in October 2021 for $3.4 million.
#AuctionUpdate #BAYC #8817 sells for a RECORD $3,408,000 USD! This is the first time it has been made available since it was minted. Less than 1% of all Bored Apes have the gold fur trait. From the collection of @j1mmyeth #NativelyDigital pic.twitter.com/HfFTpEOIUh
— Sotheby’s Metaverse (@Sothebysverse) October 26, 2021
It is also important to remember that BAYC and most of the other largest NFT collections are denominated in Ethereum, meaning not only is BAYC subject to the volatility of the floor price itself, but also the fluctuation of ETH’s price against U.S. dollars and other fiat currencies.
BendDAO and the Bored Ape Yacht Club
Potentially causing further movement ahead is the danger of liquidation for several borrowers at BendDAO. This NFT lending platform allows BAYC NFTs to be put up as collateral on loans.
With a lot of Bored Apes pledged as collateral months ago when the floor price was significantly higher, loans could be liquidated if the market sees further downside.
If this scenario were to materialize, there could be implications for the NFT market and the influence of BAYC.
With a persistent turbulent macro environment, Ethereum and Bored Apes will remain highly volatile going forward. BAYC remains an extremely risky investment, with a significant potential for downside and upside.
Bored Ape Thefts
Bored Apes have been the subject of several thefts. Many wonder how this is even possible, given these Apes don’t exist in the “real world” and are digital creations.
But if a hacker gains access to someone’s private key, they can transfer out any cryptocurrency or NFTs, including Apes. Incidents involving Bored Apes have gained extra attention given their high value compared with other NFTs collections.
Several phishing scams have targeted Bored Ape owners, using methods such as gaining access to the Bored Ape Discord server before sharing phishing links to try to make off with some stolen Apes.
Our Discord servers were briefly exploited today. The team caught and addressed it quickly. About 200 ETH worth of NFTs appear to have been impacted. We are still investigating, but if you were impacted, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Bored Ape Yacht Club (@BoredApeYC) June 4, 2022
What Is a Mutant Ape NFT?
Yuga Labs has continuously expanded the BAYC ecosystem, driving more demand for these digital creatures. This includes the launch of its sister collection, Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC).
On Aug. 28, 2021, 20,000 Mutant Apes were released, resembling mutated versions of their Bored Ape cousins. In its creation, each Bored Ape was exposed to a “vial of Mutant Serum.”
BAYC holders had an option to pair their unique NFT with the Mutant Serum, hence creating a Mutant Ape in addition to the Bored Ape they already held.
Half of MAYCs were created this way. The remainder were sold to the public via a Dutch auction, with $96 million in sales in less than one hour.
When I APE in I APE all the way in!! pic.twitter.com/3XB3Jo5Fb6
— Snoop Dogg (@SnoopDogg) December 21, 2021
Mutant Apes are just another way that Yuga Labs has turned BAYC into a cultural juggernaut.
But with the pandemic-era bull market cooling drastically this year, Apes of all varieties have cratered in price, leaving even their famous celebrity owners holding the bag.